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The Burren, Co. Clare
Thursday 11th April 2019
Paula J. Lee
I knew I wanted to go to Ireland, and I knew I wanted to travel with a small group with a pilgrimage bent. I sat in front of my computer in Denver, Colorado in the winter of 2011 and started researching my options. I discovered Journeying, and was intrigued by the description of their trips and approach. I ended up choosing the trip to the Burren Area of County Clare, and it was a very good choice.
I met Cate and Steve at Shannon airport, piled into the van, and we were off. Everyone was welcoming; there were two other Americans, and the rest of the folks were British. The long, guided walks each day were just challenging enough, and learning about the geology, geography, wildflowers, and wild creatures of the area was so interesting. At the end of our travels each day, we'd end up in a pub or café to rehash the day's adventures and plan for the next day. There were so many memorable experiences; visiting John O'Donohue's grave near the sea in Craggagh, a 'letting go' spiritual practice at the Cliffs of Moher, exploring beautiful ruins, and walking the farmer's paths as we learned about their history.
One of the highlights was our day trip to the Island of Inishmaan. The water was choppy, and the boat ride intense. I was very glad to reach the shore, where we were left off, and together walked into the small café in town. Our charge for the day was to walk the island by ourselves, and reflect on the difference between loneliness and being alone. What a perfect place for this reflection. The sunny, warm day highlighted the green hills, the blue water off the cliffs, small homes, ruins, cattle, sheep, the occasional person, and what was for me the highlight—the miles and miles of stone walls. As I walked, running my hands along the stones, I could feel their energy. I had a sense of the generations of people who had built and rebuilt these walls, and depended on them to protect their livestock and property. They were beautiful to me, and alive, and I felt accompanied by them and the lives they represented.
A sense of spirituality enveloped the whole experience; it arose naturally from our walks, sharing, living in community, and the gentle prompts we had been given. Our leaders were unfailingly kind, supportive, and calmly in control in the face of the inevitable (minor) challenges that arose, and I was grateful for their presence.
I joined Journeying again on the Isle of Skye in 2016, and am registered for the Scotland Island Idyll this summer. I'm looking forward to once again joining a welcoming community as we come from many places to share a time with kindred spirits in beautiful places.